MSs call for government action to tackle toxic sites
Two Senedd members have called for government intervention to tackle toxic sites across Wales.
Plaid Cymru’s Peredur Owen Griffiths and Delyth Jewell – who both represent the South Wales East region – made the calls after a local authority admitted that the climate crisis has made one site in particular more difficult to manage.
Caerffili County Borough Council has admitted that “substantial rainfall” has had an adverse impact on their ability to manage leachate from the Ty Llwyd quarry in Ynysddu.
The quarry was used in the 1960s and 70s as a dumping site by the now-defunct chemicals manufacturer Monsanto.
The company used it to dispose of various substances including carcinogenic polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which have been shown to be toxic in humans and wildlife and are known as forever chemicals because they do not break down in the environment.
During Business Questions in the Senedd, Mr Griffiths said: “The issue of Ty Llwyd quarry in Ynysddu has been raised numerous times in the Siambr by myself and my colleague Delyth Jewell.
“This area on the face of it looks beautiful but it hides a dark secret as the notorious US chemical company Monsanto dumped and buried unknown quantities of toxic waste in the ground.
“Monsanto have long since gone, without paying a penny in compensation for the toxic legacy they have left. Meanwhile, local residents are still having to face the consequences of these environmental crimes.
“The Labour-run Caerffili County Borough Council – who have been known to downplay the dangers posed by Ty Llwyd over the years – have admitted that the climate crisis and the higher levels of rain we now have makes managing the threat posed by the dumped chemicals more difficult.”
He added: “Minister, is it time for this government to acknowledge that local authorities and NRW on their own are unable to tackle the growing threat posed by the toxic sites left as a result of our industrial heritage?
“Can we have a statement on the creation of a strategy to remedy these toxic sites as swiftly and effectively as possible and pursue the polluters with all the powers at our disposal?”
Delyth Jewell MS added: “Plaid Cymru is backing calls for action to clean up the Ty Llwyd site to prevent chemicals leaking into the environment.
“I share the frustration felt by local people and representatives. Many people quite rightly are concerned about this issue.
“We are aware of significant concerns surrounding several other sites across the Caerphilly borough where it’s feared that chemicals have been dumped.
“At these sites people report seeing leaking into the surrounding land and into our streams and rivers, especially at times of heavy rain.
This will only become more of an issue with the changing weather patterns that will come our way because of climate change.
“Public bodies responsible for this land must work together to mitigate dangers and remedy the sites. We also need a polluter pays principle in future when it comes to these types of sites.”
In October, climate change minister Julie James told local councillors who had raised concern about pollution on the site that Caerphilly Council and environment agency Natural Resources Wales (NRW) were “continuing to evaluate information obtained from site assessments, which were commissioned by the council”.
This work would “provide current information on site conditions and future remediation options,” the minister added.
“My officials will shortly be meeting with the council and NRW to obtain an update on the preliminary outputs of the draft remediation options appraisal, ahead of the winter season,” Ms James said in her letter. “I have asked to be kept up to date on this matter.”
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